Sunday 19th March 2023 - 4th Sunday in Lent
1 Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
Psalm 23 is one of the most celebrated and well-known of all of our Scriptures. Yet in our familiarity we should not lose sight of the underlying principle that David's appreciation and understanding of the nature of God has been enriched through his participation in the world of work. As the passage from 1 Samuel 16 reminds us, David's background was as a shepherd boy. In reflecting on this Psalm we might usefully consider how participation in the world of work has enriched other's understanding of God. There may be scientists in the congregation whose study of the natural world has given them deeper insights into God the creator; perhaps a midwife or someone who through witnessing the miracle of birth has appreciated more deeply, God as the source of life. And of course we should not ignore those who, like David, through living and working on the land have developed a deeper sense of the Divine. A challenge from this Psalm might be to consider how we all might glimpse more of God through participation in everyday life.
The Old Testament Reading presents us with two significant scenarios. The first is of a failing king. This might prompt us to pray for those in authority and leadership, and to recognise the pressures that they can often be under. We might pray for local and national politicians, rulers around the world and those who support and advise them. The second is the call to anoint a new king, and the narrative gives us a brief insight into Samuel's thought process. This might prompt us to pray for those involved in recruitment, selection and careers advice, as well as consider how we seek God's guidance rather than simply our own logic in our Monday to Friday decision making.
Samuel's experience is one in which he needs to re-think what really matters. Current circumstances are causing us to recognise those key professions that are crucial to our wellbeing at the moment. They are not those that traditionally attract the greatest wealth and status. As we pray for health-workers and people in other key professions today, perhaps we might also consider what God might be saying through the current Coronavirus crisis.
The New Testament readings explore the themes of light and darkness. We might reflect on the need for openness and transparency in society, reflecting on those who seek to uncover truth, conduct enquiries etc. The healing of the blind man offers some other obvious workplace themes, those who work with the blind and vision impaired; those who work in healing professions; those who through visual and other disabilities are restricted or discriminated against in the world of work.